Former President Moshe Katsav is a religious man. I assume that his conviction won’t undermine his belonging to this community. I further assume that religious leaders will not bother to publically distance themselves from him because of his acts. Firstly, because by doing so they would “admit” that there is some kind of connection between them and him. Secondly, because the fact that a religious man was convicted of rape doesn’t mean that all religious people are that way.
I could have agreed with the second argument. However, the faithful usually know very well how to shun wrongdoers in case their acts are perceived as grave. What can we say, rape is apparently not grave enough.
Eli Yishai’s associates, for example, won’t be referring to Katsav as Amalek, as they did to Rabbi Amsalem. After all, Katsav is just a rapist, unlike Amsalem, who urged Mizrahi haredim to contribute to the state. Moreover, Shas will not consider for a moment engaging in self-reflection; after all, it was Shas that promoted Katsav’s presidential bid (not because he was worthy, but rather, merely because he is a religious Sephardic.)
Meanwhile, rightists will not be demonstrating outside Katsav’s home. They won’t put Arab headdress on his effigy and they will not characterize him as a traitor. After all, he merely raped. He is not suspected of assisting outpost evacuations, heaven forbid. The soul of Katsav’s victims is not as gentle as the soul of the hilltop girls.
Elsewhere, Ashkenazi haredi Knesset members will not refer to Katsav as “Pharaoh.” After all, the president only targeted females, as opposed to the ancient Egyptian leader.
Katsav is not an enemy of Israel, because he’s not a leftist. He isn’t a “Nazi,” because he’s not a police officer. He’s just a rapist, as the court ruled. The notion that a person who raped, stole or lied is therefore not really religious is no longer valid. In order to be religious, one need not do anything but wear a Kippah and become a member of the community. The definition of religious apparently includes nothing beyond belonging to the community. Hence, Moshe Katsav will continue to be religious.
Moshe Katsav can prove to us that he can be a wonderful religious man. He can join a minyan, and no rabbi would issue a ban on renting him an apartment, or rule that Jewish girls should not associate with him. For heaven’s sake, Katsav is merely a rapist, not an Arab.
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